You know who I am?
I’m the guy who always prided himself on being the skinny strongman.
I was that little prick who would love to find some guy twice my size at the squat rack or leg press and ask “Can I work in?”. Then when he was done with his set and still looking like freshly rinsed tomato, I would stack on a couple more plates and do my warmups.
When I was alone, things would get even worse. I would watch professional strongman contests on Youtube and think to myself “What a wimp! This 400 pound giant is struggling to deadlift twice his body weight. I can pull 3x my bodyweight. Can you imagine if I weighed 400 pounds?”
It hurts me to admit it now, but this was exactly the kind of jackoff I used to be.
I suppose one of the reasons why I became such a tool in the first place, was because I felt as though I had never had the ability to get big. I was under the assumption that you were either born to be big, or born to be skinny. Having been labeled a “hardgainer” by myself and everyone around me, I decided to embrace the roll. After all, if being skinny was the genetic hand that I had been dealt, what else could I do?
I wasn’t going to walk around being depressed over the color of my eyes, so why would I walk around depressed over my skinny arms? While the other guys were going to the gym and getting huge, I was focused on getting strong. For a long time, that became my thing, shocking people with the strength my tiny body could produce.
Looking back, I’m sure I impressed a lot fewer people then I thought I did at the time. At best, my strength was a cute parlor trick. At worst, it was an opportunity to hustle bigger guys at arm wrestling.
I used to write off big guys as genetically lotterywinning meatheads and conveniently ignored the fact that strong is strong, no matter what your size. If I weighed 135 and was pulling 405, I could still only pull 405. Even if the guy who weighed 405 was struggling to pull 800, he was still pulling nearly twice as much weight as me. Period.
Sure in my head, I could do the math and say “if I weighted XXX, I could pull XXXX”, but that wasn’t the reality. I didn’t weigh XXX and so I couldn’t pull XXXX. Also, since my interest was in overall strength and not just competing for a certain weight class, being skinny wasn’t really working to my advantage.
Again, I ignored all this logic. I was too busy protecting my ego to acknowledge the obvious.
In my life however, poetic justice always seems to be lurking right around the corner.
As most of my readers already know by now, I grew up battling all sorts of health issues and musculoskeletal abnormalities that put me in a great deal of pain. I had originally started training for therapeutic reasons, but when I discovered my knack for strength, I let it consume me.
It didn’t take too long until I realized that all my strength training had actually worsened the condition of my musculoskeletal system. I was in more pain than ever and was quickly becoming humbled. Not only was I still skinny, but now I was going to have to give up strength training, at least for a while.
My precious ego was shattered. I had nothing left to stand on besides my gaunt (and now weak) body. I needed to get focused on the real reason I started training in the first place, repairing my body.
Since I needed specialized equipment to do so, I could no longer just workout at home. I needed a gym. Which meant, that everyone was going to be a witness to me lifting girly weights. Talk about hitting bottom. The weight I had to lift was so absurdly small, that I actually had guys approach me on a regular basis to let me know that I would never build muscle that way.
Often times I would hear people sighing behind me while waiting to use the machine, as though my workouts were a waste of the gym’s equipment. Inevitably, someone would ask if they could «work in» with me and poetic justice was served.
As the humiliating months went by, I was finally starting to make some progress. Some of my pain was diminishing and I was able to use a moderate amount of weight. There was a local bodybuilding contest being held, and the owner of the gym was looking for participants. He approached me and said that I had a good foundation and that if I bulked up, I could place well.
I don’t know if he was blowing smoke up my ass or what, but I decided to jump on the opportunity. I needed something to make all this therapy seem worthwhile. I also remembered that a while back, one of my chiropractors told me that my skeleton looked like it was built to carry more muscle. That if I were bigger, my bones would stay in place better. It seemed like the right decision.
So as with any endeavor in my life, I went completely fanatical. I gained 30 pounds of lean muscle in 3 weeks and even documented it at stoneagestrength.com. I even went on to write a book about it called Muscle Mutilation which records the exact measures I took in order to gain that kind of mass so quickly. Later on, I repeated the process and gained another 26 pounds.
The punchline of the story is this. Although I never attempted to “max out” during the course of those 3 weeks, I found that I was significantly stronger by the end of it. When it finally came time to start lifting heavy again, all my old personal records felt like paper weights.
I was shocked.
The mere act of me gaining a significant amount of body weight had increased my strength enormously. For instance, when I weighed about 140 pounds, I could do strict barbell curls with 115 pounds. That was over 80% of my bodyweight, which was nothing to shake a stick at. That would be like a 400 pound strongman strict curling 320 pounds!
After I had gained the first 30 pounds, I found that I could suddenly strict curl 130 pounds at a body weight of 177 pounds.(I was actually about 147 before I decided to gain the weight, but I wasn’t strict curling because of an issue with my elbow). In fact, all my old personal records felt easy when I was bigger.
Yes, pound for pound, I was weaker, curling only about 74% of my body weight as opposed to 80%, Nonetheless, I was stronger. Let’s not forget, that getting back up to 80% (142 pounds) would only require returning my focus to strength training instead of therapy or mass, resulting in (if I’m doing my math correctly) a 23% increase in the strength of my strict barbell curl…13% of which I got for free just by gaining body weight.
Being able to curl that amount of weight really exploded my speed and endurance when it came to doing tire flips and chinups. I know a lot of people think bicep curls are for gym rats and bodybuilders. However, barbell curls can be extremely functional, especially when it comes to preventing injury. Most strongmen find that out the hard way after tearing a bicep.
Aside from the many moral lessons I’ve learned from this experience, I definitely reinforced one truism.
Namely, if you want to be your strongest, you’ve got to be your biggest. Yes, like I was, you may be stronger than a lot of guys twice your size, but you will never be stronger than yourself at twice your size. If you’re hitting strength plateaus, the quickest, easiest and most effective way to break them is to get bigger. Like Magnus Samuelson (1998 World’s Strongest Man winner, world class armwrestler and huge fan of bicep curls) once said “You can’t be afraid to gain weight”.
If you weight 150 pounds and can already bench twice your weight, why not bench twice your weight when you weigh 220 pounds?
Increase your size, and your strength will increase by default. Period.
If you don’t wanna wait years to get huge, then I can help you.
Find out how I did it in 3 weeks here….
…and for those of you who want enormously strong arms, here’s the story of how I put
over 3 inches on my biceps in 2 month…
Professor ‘Stone’ Paul is a strength coach, linguist and touring musician. He specializes in achieving maximum strength and wellness for his clients by reshaping their minds and implementing bizarre techniques which require little or no equipment. You can find out more about his methods at www.stoneagestrength.com